This story was written by Becca Simon and published by The Square Deal on February 20th, 2019. Find the original distribution here.
On any given day of the week, Sarah Dinger can be found jet setting across the country to one of 45 My Place hotel locations or any number of new prospective locations. As the senior vice president of brand management, Sarah is charged with growing the brand.
But she didn’t start at the top.
So how did she go from employee to an influential name in the hospitality industry?
Odds are you’re familiar with a certain hotel chain — Super 8 Motels, aka the world’s largest budget hotel chain.
But, no, that’s not where her career began.
Sarah, like most people, started small as a server and bartender at Robbie’s, an Aberdeen staple that closed in 2005.
The Aberdeen native fell in love with the ability to work with and serve others.
“I found my calling in the hospitality industry, and I never looked back,” she said.
Another job as a server and then manager at Wild Oats Sports Bar and Grill — which closed in 2014 — led to a fateful and lasting friendship with the Rivett family, who owned the restaurant, as well as Super 8.
In fact, Ron Rivett co-founded the chain in Aberdeen with Dennis Brown in 1974. Since the first location opened in 1974, the chain has expanded to over 2,800 locations across the globe.
Banking on that success, Ron and his grandson Ryan sought to form another affordable hotel chain suitable to both long and short-term stays.
“When the My Place opportunity was presented to me, I knew without hesitation that I wanted to be a part of it,” Sarah said.
Excited about the vision behind My Place, Sarah became the very first employee and worked directly with Ryan Rivett to bring the dream to life.
It was 2012. At that time, there was only one property in Dickinson, N.D., with another property in the works in Minot, N.D. Sarah wore multiple hats and took on every task, from creating and organizing the company’s brand standards to going out on the road to open new locations.
“It was anything from sales and marketing to managing and operations,” she said.
As one might expect, starting a national hotel chain from the ground up is no easy feat. Every day, Sarah stays exceptionally busy trying to keep all the plates spinning. Her primary role as a brand manager is to continue to build the standards for the company, which encompasses multiple layers across many departments.
She provides resources to franchisees starting their own My Place locations, works with guest relations, assists with product research development and much more.
“It’s taking what we know, what others know, and making the most of it,” Sarah said.
Although it’s a great responsibility, the personal and professional relationships she forms on the job are what drive her forward.
“It’s all about the people,” she said. “The hospitality industry is really about giving, and that’s what I love to do.”
As a leader, Sarah views herself as part of the team. She leads from experience, and she never asks her team to do something she hasn’t done already.
“It’s really about passion and hard work and setting your mind to what you want to achieve,” Sarah said. “It’s about the goals, and working around the same like-minded individuals.”
Sarah has been featured multiple times in Hotel Management, a national trade magazine. Last year, she was named as one of 2018’s “Most Influential Women in Hospitality.”
Today, My Place continues to grow at a rapid pace. The company is within weeks of opening its 45th location in Hastings, Neb., and they are already on track to opening 50 locations by the summer.
“It’s all very, very exciting,” Sarah said. “We are a very close-knit team and our franchisees become family to us. It’s family. It’s teamwork.”
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